OK, it is later now and way past due for an update. As everyone knows, this has been a very different year for everyone due to the economic situation. It has not been a terribly bad year for us; our problems have not been lack of business, but getting work done and out the door in a timely fashion. In some areas we have done poorly there and to those who did or have not received your bike as quickly as desired or promised, I apologize and am working to improve. I have identified that most of this was due to personnel problems. I have taken steps to resolve those problems and although not out of the woods yet, we are working on improving management systems and shop output.
The decision last year to bring Slipstream production home from Taiwan was a good one. Slipstream and Gulfstream’s are the only frames ever built in Taiwan. The only remaining Taiwan frames are a few Gulfstream’s and by next spring I would expect all Longbikes frames to be just like our decal says, "Hand Built in Colorado" … 100%.
One pleasant surprise this year is the resurgence of the Eliminator, which for several years played second fiddle to the Slipstream, but this year they are neck and neck. There has been renewed interest on the dealer side as well. This may have something to do with exchange rates and freight cost to bring in European SWB's. Rob Walton, owner of Spring Creek Recumbents www.springcreekrecumbents.com who has been riding a Slipstream for his daily driver for about a year now recently took delivery of his first Eliminator for a customer and after a check out ride, his only word was "Awesome"!
Something that I have been promising for several years is to make Jetstreams available and that is almost a reality. Every SWB tandem that we have built up until last month was built using a temporary set up on the big upright tandem jig. Every other recumbent has always had a dedicated frame-welding jig...and now so does the Jetstream! It feels like it took forever, but it is done and the first true 2009 Jetstream is at paint and will be shipping to Chris Young in Oregon within a couple of weeks. Shortly after that we will have Jetstreams on their way to Michigan and Connecticut and a few unsold frames hanging on the rack.
My young protege Sterling with his first Jetstream. Less than two years ago he did not know how to weld. Every day he demonstrates that he is without a doubt one of the best learners that I have ever taught.
Today I did an update to the website which included some price changes and some spec updates. The big thing is pricing. I have looked at our cost and where we are in recumbent industry. Cost of parts and material is something we can't do much about other than buying smarter. Even with the economy in the tank, we have not seen any reduction in anything but gasoline. The fuel surcharges on freight have not come down yet and some local suppliers are now charging a fee for delivery. We have experienced several suppliers who are now charging a "packaging charge," $20 to $30 to put the parts in a box to ship UPS!
We have looked at other manufacturers pricing and specifications and believe that we could easily justify a higher price based on several factors, performance, overall quality, fit, finish, style and grace. I have only increased the price on the bikes between 4% and 7% in recognition of the current economic conditions. I have adjusted pricing on some of the options based on actual cost increases. I have also negotiated a pricing agreement with Spectrum Powder Works, one of the foremost bike paint shops in the country which allows us to reduce the up charge cost on colors other than yellow and give us a source for custom paint jobs.
I have also added some new accessory items and there will be more to come. We now stock some lights, Cateye Strada Cadence computers (with all necessary mounting you will need), Zefal Dooback mirrors and a few other small items to enable us to ship your bike so that you don't have to search for accessories and mount them yourself.
Something that I am thinking about but have not made a decision yet is to charge for packaging (to be fair to people who pick up their bike at the factory), and perhaps a "cash" versus credit card pricing. These are just thoughts at this time.